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New Community Hub at St John’s Church, Dudley

Published: 17th January 2024

Bishop Martin standing with the congregation of St John's Church in their community hubBishop Martin joined the congregation of St John’s Church in Kates Hill, Dudley last Sunday to bless their new community space. Supported by a team from Top Church (our Resourcing Church in Dudley), the congregation has refurbished the downstairs room in the hall where the church meets and will shortly open it as a foodbank and community café/ meeting space.

Churchwarden Brian Wentworth said: “Kates Hill is quite cut off from Dudley Town centre by a main road. We’re in an area of considerable need and there aren’t many other buildings locally that could be used in this way. Just doing this small thing for our community can make a difference and it is a chance for us to make our church more open and welcoming to local people.”

Bishop John standing at the front of St John's Church in DudleyBishop Martin led the Sunday morning service before moving downstairs to bless the new space and pray for all those involved. He said: “Transforming this space into a foodbank and community hub has been a real team effort. I believe that God has been with you in this project and pray that it will bless all who live here.  The people of St John’s have worked hard to maintain a worshipping community in the face of many obstacles, including the closure of the original church building. Thank you to all those who have kept the flame of faith burning over the years. It is great to see your vision to be a church which is a beacon of hope and light to the local community, providing a space where people can find food for their bodies as well as nourish their souls.”

The foodbank will be one of 12 locations across Dudley linked with the Black County Foodbank. Lynne Tilby is the Dudley Co-ordinator for the charity and is working with the church to set up the foodbank. She said: “There are many people in need locally and this new foodbank in Kates Hill will help relieve pressure on the town centre locations. Having somewhere local also helps with transport costs and means people don’t have to carry heavy bags of shopping so far. However, it’s not just about food, but also about relationships and providing a safe space for people to just ‘be’. This foodbank will help build community and help the church to build connections with those living in the area.”

Thanks to the national funding given to Top Church, two posts have been created locally to support both St John’s Church in Kates Hill and St Francis in Dudley. Shane Pincher is Facilities Manager for the two churches plus Top Church and Camilla Clarke is the Community Hub Leader. Both have worked alongside a team of volunteers from the congregation at St John’s Church.  

Bishop Martin standing with two younger members of st John's congregation as he blesses the new foodbankShane oversaw much of the practical work needed to transform the room. He said: “The church wasn’t using the downstairs room and it had become quite derelict. We have worked on the floors, ceilings, electrics and central heating as well as the décor. We even found an original piece of stained glass hidden away which we have reframed and mounted with LED lighting in front of passages of scripture all to do with food! This area of Dudley has been quite neglected and with the refurbishment, we wanted to create something which could be compared to a high-end café, where people could come, use the WiFi and drink good coffee. A welcoming space for the people of Kates Hill.”

Camilla worked with the church to help identify the needs of the local community, researching statistics and building links with the local school by attending parent forums and assemblies.  She said: “The local school are voucher holders for the foodbank so it seemed sensible to set something up that people can use locally. We are now making plans about what else we might use the space for and are considering a uniform bank and being part of the Places of Welcome scheme. The school are also coming into the church to do an Easter Experience at the end of term. However, the main plan is to create a place where people can come and make friends, find belonging and get practical help. We want people to come in and feel special.”

Page last updated: Wednesday 17th January 2024 9:21 AM

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